11 Brilliant Gifts for the Teacher in Your Life

iStock
iStock

Few people play such an important role in young lives (and parents’ lives) as teachers. Whether they lead kindergarten or university classes, educators work tirelessly to serve their pupils—and don’t always get rewarded as well as they should. Give back this holiday season with gifts that are (mostly) classroom ready.

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1. A Thank You Note; Free

iStock

Sometimes the best things in life don’t cost anything at all. Let your favorite teacher know how much they’re appreciated with a hand-written note. Chances are, they don’t hear it enough.

2. The Art of Caramel

This sweet and salty gift box includes four different flavors of caramel corn, like Kentucky Bourbon Black Pepper and Honey Graham. Each flavor is designed to accompany the bottle of wine included—a 2016 Dime Red Blend from Sonoma, California. Give it to one teacher who really needs a break, or split up the flavors and hand them out to several teachers.

Find It at Winc for $50.

3. Library Card Tote Bag

This cotton tote bag lets the wearer proclaim their love of reading and nostalgia for analog catalog systems. It has a useful little pocket inside to keep keys or a cell phone accessible and it's perfect for carrying home heavy textbooks or lesson-plan binders.

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $20.

4. Personalized Moleskine Notebooks

Taking down notes and making to-do lists can be a personal activity, and these notebooks reflect that. For an extra $5, they can be personalized with any text (up to 12 characters), giving you the opportunity to emboss them with a brief thank you note or the recipient’s name.

Find It at Moleskine for $20 and up.

5. Hot Chocolate Sticks

Three hot chocolate sticks
Amazon

Available in dark, milk, and white chocolate flavors, these hot chocolate sticks are a great no-fuss treat for busy teachers. All they have to do is swirl one around in hot milk for one or two minutes to make delicious hot chocolate. The six-pack gift box has two of each flavor and comes wrapped in a brown bow.

Find It at Amazon for $14 and at these other retailers:

6. Percy The Pencil Porcupine

This porcupine-shaped pencil holder is both utilitarian and whimsical, letting your favorite educator show some desktop flair. It’s made from glazed clay and stands about 4 inches tall, with room to hold more than a dozen pencils.

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $19 and at these other retailers:

7. Classroom Supply Pack

Some teachers need classroom supplies more than they need trinkets and holiday sweets. Amazon’s classroom supply pack bundles together basics like pencils, art paper, notebooks, facial tissue, hand sanitizer, and glue sticks. Even if your favorite educator doesn’t need a new pair of scissors for their classroom, one of their deserving students might.

Find It at Amazon for $40.

8. Great Quotes from Great Leaders Boxed Calendar

Great Quotes for Great Leaders Calendar
Amazon

Bring some inspiration to the classroom by gifting your teacher this 2019 calendar. Each day of the year features a different quote from one of the world’s foremost leaders and thinkers, from Mahatma Gandhi to Thomas Jefferson to Queen Victoria. They’ll hopefully learn something new, and their students will, too.

Find It at Amazon for $7.

9. 2019 Wildwood Planner

Front cover of the planner
Rifle Paper Co

A brand new planner is a great way to get a fresh start. Help your teacher gear up for 2019 with this beautifully crafted planner, which features a floral pattern on the cover and gold-colored accents throughout. It’s filled with inspirational quotes, a pocket in the back, and perhaps most excitingly, three sheets of stickers.

Find It at Rifle Paper and Co. for $34 and at these other retailers:

10. Fund A Classroom Project

Tim Boyle/Getty Images

If you really want to help out a classroom, give some cash to a local project on DonorsChoose.org, a site that allows schools and educators to crowdfund classroom projects. Help purchase computers or printers for the classroom, sound systems for dance classes, standard classroom materials, and more.

Find It at DonorsChoose.org.

11. Amazon Gift Card

If you don’t know exactly what kind of supplies a classroom needs, leave it up to the teacher in question by giving an Amazon gift card. Whether they’re looking to fund an art project or just buy basic supplies for kids, they’ll be able to put the money to good use.

Find It at Amazon.

Ninja’s Hot & Cold Brewed System Is the Only Coffee Maker You’ll Ever Need

Amazon
Amazon

Update: The Ninja Hot & Cold Brewed System is on sale for $120 ($40 off) for Sam's Club members until May 19.

For people who just want a cup of joe to help them get out the door in the morning, the French presses, Chemexes, Aeropresses, Moka pots, and other specialized devices that coffee aficionados swear by probably seem more overwhelming than appealing. Ditto the fancy cappuccino machines at local cafes. That’s where Ninja’s new Hot & Cold Brewed System comes in: It was created to give coffee addicts a myriad of options with minimal fuss, not to mention minimal equipment. And it makes tea, too!

“Coffeehouses are known for having an endless selection, but current at-home brewers haven't given users the vast variety of choice we thought possible, and certainly not all in one product," Mark Rosenzweig, CEO of SharkNinja, said in a press release. "The Ninja Hot & Cold Brewed System changes the category entirely. This innovative system is more than just a machine you use in the morning; it's your all-day brewing partner.”

The Hot & Cold Brewed System comes with two baskets: one for coffee and one for tea. It knows what you're making to make based on the basket you insert, and the available options for that basket will light up. The machine allows the user to make six different sizes of coffee or tea, from a single cup all the way up to a full 50-ounce (10-cup) carafe.

And of course, as the name suggests, the system can make both hot and iced beverages. For coffee, it has five brew options: classic, rich, over ice, cold brew, and specialty (a concentrated brew for milky drinks like cappuccinos). If you’re making tea, you can choose between hot and cold brews optimized for herbal, black, oolong, white, or green tea.

When you select an over ice or cold brew, the machine automatically doubles the strength of your beverage so it doesn't get overly diluted by the ice cubes in the carafe. Even better, the Ninja can make cold brew in just 10 to 15 minutes, whereas other systems and methods typically take hours. (Hot coffee is brewed at 205°F, while the cold brew is made at 101°F.) And the system has a hot and cold frother that folds into the side so you can make barista-level lattes, too.

These bells and whistles sound impressive on paper, but how do they perform in real life? Ninja sent me Hot & Cold Brewed System to test for myself.

Ease of Use

Though it might look like something developed by NASA, the Hot & Cold Brewed System is designed to easily work with the twist of a dial and the push of a button, and it delivers. From loading in the correct amount of grounds with the system’s “smart scoop” to picking what type of brew you’d like, it’s simple enough to use even while bleary-eyed in the morning. It’s also easy to schedule a delayed brew so you can do the rest of your morning routine while your coffee brews. (Here’s the only drawback I can think of about this machine: When it starts brewing, it’s kind of noisy—loud enough to make my cats jump. It’s not a dealbreaker, but if you live in a small apartment and plan to brew coffee so that it’s ready right when you wake up, it might be something to consider.)

The system even tells you when it needs to be descaled. The “clean” button will light up, at which point you simply fill the water reservoir with descaling solution and water and press the clean button. A countdown lets you know how much longer the clean cycle will last.

Taste and Flavor

I swapped out an old, cheap coffee maker for the Hot & Cold Brewed System, and the difference was immediately noticeable. Whether hot or cold, the coffee made by the H&CBS was a better, smoother cup of joe. That’s due to what Ninja has dubbed Thermal Flavor Extraction automated brewing technology, which, according to a press release, “knows the precise temperatures, correct bloom times, and proper levels of saturation for every possible beverage combination to ensure a great taste every time.”

Whatever tech they use, it works. The coffee I make in this machine is consistently tasty. The rich brew setting works exactly as advertised, too, providing a richer, bolder flavor than the classic brew.

Features and Accessories

One of the best things about the H&CBS is the fact that it cuts down on waste significantly. Unlike other machines, it doesn't require any plastic pods or paper filters. Instead, it comes with two permanent filters, one for coffee and one for tea.

And the cold brew function is a game changer if you prefer iced coffee to hot. Not only does it brew quickly, but it eliminates the messy cleanup that comes with making cold brew yourself.

Typically priced at $230 for the thermal carafe version (or $200 for the glass carafe), the Hot & Cold Brewed System is significantly more expensive than a simpler drip coffee machine. But if you’re a cold brew addict looking to treat yourself, it’s worth it. Consider springing for the slightly more expensive thermal carafe model, which will keep your java hot or cold for hours. (I’ve left ice in it overnight and found cubes the next morning.)

You can get the Hot & Cold Brewed System on Amazon, Walmart, Macy's, Sam's Club, or directly on Ninja’s website starting at $160.

Attention Aspiring Astronauts: Arlo Skye Now Has Space-Themed Luggage

Arlo Skye
Arlo Skye

While some travelers are preoccupied with getting their luggage through airport security, the designers at Arlo Skye are thinking bigger. As Condé Nast Traveler reports, the brand's new line of suitcases is inspired by space travel, with high tech features and a sleek, futuristic look.

Arlo Skye was founded in 2016 by alumni from Louis Vuitton and Tumi Inc. They set out to create luggage that emphasized design, with luxury polycarbonate suitcases available in trendy colors like rose gold and custom monogramming.

The company's Space Collection may be its most stylized line yet. It comes with a removable, 10,050-milliamp-hour charger with USB C and A ports for charging phones and other devices. The chrome-colored case is 22 inches tall, 9 inches deep, and 14 inches wide and weighs 8.5 pounds empty.

Space Collection suitcase from Arlo Skye
Arlo Skye

Depending on what type of space traveler you are, you can get one of three designs laser-etched on the bottom of your luggage. There's Moon Shot, Team Human, and Occupy Mars; each engraving comes with a short ode to space and a small picture of its respective celestial body. Like other suitcases made by Arlo Skye, these bags are zipper-free and made from polycarbonate with an aluminum frame.

Whether you're a globetrotter or an aspiring astronaut, the Space Collection from Arlo Skye makes a great travel companion.

Buy it from Arlo Skye for $450.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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